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The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), finding that imported aluminum wire and cable from China was sold below market rates and had been supported by illegal subsidies, has imposed substantial penalties.

A press release said the ruling supports the Oct. 22 findings of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DoC) that Chinese manufacturers had been selling these products into the U.S. market at less than fair market value and receiving illegal subsidies from the Chinese government. It issued two separate penalties that ITC has now approved.

DoC had set a dumping rate of 63.47% for mandatory respondents Shanghai Silin Special Equipment Co., Ltd. and Hebei Huatong Wires and Cables Group Co., Ltd.; a separate rate of 58.51% for certain other companies; and 63.47% for all other Chinese producers and exporters. The subsidy rate was 165.63% to mandatory respondents Shanghai Silin Special Equipment Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Yang Pu Qu Gong; 33.44% to mandatory respondent Changfeng Wire & Cable Co., Ltd.; and 33.44% for all other Chinese producers and exporters.

An official of Southwire Company, which along with Encore Wire Corporation had petitioned for the penalties, lauded the decision. “Southwire has long been a believer in the power of free trade, and the ITC’s finding, coupled with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s final determinations on dumping and illegal subsidization, will better al-
low us to compete with Chinese producers of wire and cable on a level playing field,” said Southwire Executive Vice President and CCO Norman Adkins.

With the ITC vote, Commerce was expected to issue AD/CVD orders by Dec. 9, 2019. Commerce will also instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to begin collecting cash deposits on such imports at rates ranging from 81.27% to 218.42%. In 2018, imports of aluminum wire and cable from China were valued at an estimated $115 million.

The Bekaert Group announced that it will phase out its U.S. steel wire operations at its Shelbyville plant in Kentucky, laying off approximately a hundred employees.

A press release said that Bekaert intends to phase out the steel wire production at the plant by January 2020. The Shelbyville plant makes steel wire for various applications and markets, including the construction, consumer goods and various industrial sectors.

“External developments in demand and pricing trends have had a negative impact on the profitability and competitive position of Bekaert Shelbyville over the past years, calling for a realignment of our steel wire solutions activities in the country,” the release said. The Dramix® production line serving concrete reinforcement markets will remain in Shelbyville until a permanent location is determined.

Some of the product lines made at Shelbyville will be moved to two other U.S. Bekaert plants—Van Buren, Arkansas, and Orrville, Ohio—while others will be stopped or sourced and distributed through alternative channels. The plan is to extend the manufacturing operations in Van Buren and Orrville with the respective technology and expertise.

“Management regrets the need to implement this measure, but sees no other option to safeguard a long-term competitive position of its steel wire activities in North America,” the release said. “The business conditions have trended lower in various sectors as a result of tighter markets and continued uncertainty. Our tire markets held up well in the first nine months of 2019 but are expected to slow down in the fourth quarter as a result of the normal seasonality and destocking actions throughout the supply chain in anticipation of a continued weak business climate. The steel wire solutions activities are projected to further contract in the last quarter, mainly because of the impact of the social protest actions in Latin America, trade tariffs, and further economic slowdown globally. We do not foresee a downturn in construction markets other than the usual seasonality impact and we expect the business environment of Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group to remain challenging.

In this scenario of economic slowdown and year-end seasonality, Bekaert continues to implement actions to offset the external headwinds, said the release, which focused on specific elements. “These actions are focused on managing cost, pricing, mix and footprint and aim to deliver an improvement of the underlying business performance. We are also further improving our working capital level and debt position and are well on track to bring our debt leverage below 2.5 by year-end.”

Jingye Steel has entered into a deal to buy British Steel, which had previously agreed to be sold to a buyer—Oyak, a Turkish army pension fund—that later dropped its offer because the operations were not commercially viable.

Per published reports, China’s Jingye Steel, via its U.K. operations, has entered into a contract to buy British Steel. British Steel’s Official Receiver and others part of the process, confirmed that contracts have been entered into with Jingye Steel (UK) Ltd. and Jingye Steel (UK) Holding Ltd., to acquire the business and assets of British Steel Limited in liquidation, including the steelworks at Scunthorpe and U.K. mills and the subsidiary businesses of FN Steel, British Steel France and TSP Engineering.

The deal has yet to be finalized, and is conditional on items that include regulatory approvals and certain employee consultation procedures. “The parties are working together to conclude a sale as soon as reasonably practicable...and the business will continue to trade as normal, during the period between exchange and completion, whilst assisting Jingye to plan for the future.”

Per the reports, Jingye is a privately owned Chinese corporation founded and led by Li Ganpo a former senior Communist Party official who became a self-made industrial tycoon. His Jingye Group has interests in steel and manufacturing, chemicals, real estate, finance, trade, pharmaceutical, hotels and tourism. It has more than 22,000 employees.

Briish Steel, which includes wire rod in its product mix, was described as Britain’s second largest steelmaker after Tata Steel. The steelmaker was put into liquidation in May, years after being acquired by private equity firm Greybull Capital LLP for 1 pound.

The offer from Oyak has been reported as having been between $73 million and $85 million. At one point, Oyak had told The Guardian that it was considering doubling the production capacity of British Steel.

U.S.-based Lee Spring reports that it has acquired Longcroft Engineering, a U.K. manufacturer of custom springs that has a plant in Todmorden, Lancashire.

A press release said that Longcroft Engineering "has been a key strategic partner of Lee Spring for any years, with a complementary skill set that is a natural fit for the enhancement of our global operations."

Lee Spring CEO Steve Kemp said that "the acquisition of Longcroft Engineering expands our capabilities to support continued growth within the U.K. and across the greater European market. They are a talented team with broad spring manufacturing experience and particular expertise in short-run prototyping of complex springs made from both wire as well as flat materials."

Longcroft Engineering, which will continue to serve customers from its facility in Todmorden, will now also have access to a wider range of capabilities through Lee Spring’s global manufacturing operations, the release said. "This acquisition enhances the offering available to Lee Spring customers worldwide with expanded manufacturing operations located in the U.K."

The Prysmian Group announced that it has received a binding offer from Carlisle Companies Incorporated for the acquisition of the business of Draka Fileca SAS (Fileca) in a transaction valued at €73 million.

A press release said that Fileca, which was acquired by Prysmian in 2011 as part of the Draka acquisition, is a global supplier of highly engineered cables for the aerospace and space end markets. Based in France, it generates revenues of €44 million and reported adjusted EBITDA of approximately €5 million in 2018. Fileca, provided first generations of aerospace cables to the Concorde program.

The transaction is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2020.

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